On our little family outing this past weekend, we stopped for lunch at a small cafe. I browsed the menu and immediately came to the conclusion that the place we were eating at was going to be top notch. Long, long before I even tasted any of their food.
How did I discern this so quickly? Simple. A single menu item under the ‘Sandwich’ category.
Now, before you get all huffy and tell me “Lots of places have reubens dummy.”
I have to say- that it wasn’t the inclusion of the sandwich that made the place great, it was the description of said sandwich. You see….there was no description. None. It was listed with a single word on the menu with no accompanying text at all.
This means, to me- that the little cafe we were about to eat at knows the truth about these sandwiches. That there’s only one way to make them correctly.
There was no Turkey, pastrami, or corned beef? No Rye, wheat or rye? Or even Choice of dressing?
I assume that patrons could, if they so choose, order a variation of the sandwich, but the restaurant would not demean such a culinary marvel by announcing such cheapening options.
You see folks, if you’re going to have a reuben sandwich, there’s only one acceptable way to have it. Corned beef on toasted rye. Sauerkraut, Russian dressing, Swiss cheese. Should any of these ingredients be removed or replaced with a lesser option, you have ruined the sandwich and should be ashamed of yourself.
Whenever I go to a place for the first time, I order a reuben and will judge the place forever based on the quality of it. If I see a menu which lists loathsome options such as ‘turkey’ for such a meal, I am immediately revolted. If you want a turkey sandwich, order a turkey sandwich. There are plenty of good turkey sandwiches out there. Just don’t you dare call it a reuben. It’s like ordering a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and swapping the peanut butter for olive oil and calling it by the same name.
Small, hole-in-the wall cafes and restaurants seem to get it. No variations in the description of the sandwich on their menus, No explanations because explanations of properly done sandwiches are not needed. You don’t see the section of the kids’ menus populated with: “Hot dog: hot dog served on a bun.” Because we damn well know how a hot dog needs to be served.
Reubens are the same way. Know it or get out.
A well-crafted reuben is truly an art form. It needs to be full without falling apart. It needs to be weighty without being heavy. It needs to be juicy without being soggy. If you find a place which can make one to meet the demands for a good one- keep that place and go back as often as you can. If they can craft a reuben perfectly, odds are they do other meals just as well, so if you ever decide you don’t want one, you won’t lack for other satisfying options.
Incidentally- I was right about the cafe. The sandwich was excellent. A little small perhaps, but fantastic.
I do of course realize that several of my readers who are more inclined to eat healthy and do that exercise thing have possibly keeled over and died at the idea of eating something so laden with grease, and I will honestly miss them, they were wonderful to interact with.
I do think though- that there is another portion of my readership who may just be salivating at the idea of having one of these as soon as absolutely possible. In fact, I like to believe that someone who started reading this hasn’t yet finished it because they’re already off trying to figure out how to get one.
To them I say…if you manage to find one….make it two and meet me for lunch.